How to Make Sure Your Dog’s Toys Are Not Toxic
Written by Kristian Porter
We love our dogs, and we want to do whatever we can to give them the best life possible. This means good food, lots of exercise, and the most fun toys. Unfortunately, the toys you buy for your dog may be filled with toxic chemicals that can lead to adverse health effects long-term.
This post will walk you through common toxic chemicals found in dog toys and how you can make sure your dog’s toys are safe.
Dog Toy Safety Regulations
When a children’s toy is manufactured, it has to go through many tests before it’s considered safe for a child to play with. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requires that any product targeted at children under the age of 12 be tested for lead, phthalates, toxic metals, safety, and more.
When a dog toy is manufactured, none of this rigorous testing is required before it can be sold to consumers.
There are currently no federal standards in place and no governing body to regulate the manufacturing of:
- Pet toys
- Pet beds
- Grooming aids
- Cat litter
- Small animal and bird bedding
Unfortunately, with no regulations in place, it’s entirely up to the consumer to research the company and its manufacturing conditions before buying a toy for their dog.
Common Chemicals Found in Dog Toys
What exactly makes a dog toy toxic?
The rigorous testing that children’s toys go through is in place to make sure that, among other safety features, no harmful chemicals are being used to manufacture the toy.
Those same harmful chemicals that are banned from children’s toys can make appearances in your dog’s toys if you don’t know what to look for.
Here are a few of the most common chemicals found in dog toys:
Polyvinyl Chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl) is a very hard plastic, too hard for a dog to chew on. Phthalates are added to PVC to soften it and make it easier on your dog’s teeth. If you’ve ever sniffed vinyl, these added chemicals give it that distinctive smell.
Phthalates are very toxic to your dog (and you). They’ve been linked to damage to a dog’s kidneys, liver, and reproductive system.
Bisphenol A is another common additive to PVC, and it’s used to strengthen phthalates to stop them from breaking down. BPA
The same thing can happen with your dog’s toys. Your dog interacts with the world through their mouth, so any chemicals that leach out from those toys are directly ingested by your pup.
In the case of BPA, studies have shown that it changes your dog’s metabolism, and it’s also been linked to forms of cancer.
It’s common knowledge that lead is a dangerous metal, and exposure to it can cause damage to our brains, kidneys, and other vital organs. For that reason, lead paint was banned in 1978, and testing is still done on older homes constantly to prevent lead poisoning.
Unfortunately, lead is still commonly found in dog toys, typically in imported toys and tennis balls. In fact, The Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff Lab found that 48% of the pet products they’ve tested have contained detectable lead levels.
Lead is particularly problematic because it accumulates in the body. Lead poisoning in dogs can damage your dog’s organs, including their nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.
Other Potentially Toxic Substances
Some chemicals are safe and even necessary in small amounts. They become toxic when there are high levels present.
One of those chemicals is chromium, an essential mineral used in micro-doses as an insulin supplement for dogs. In too high of doses, chromium can negatively affect the respiratory system, GI system, immune system, liver, and kidney.
A ConsumerAffairs study by a forensic toxicologist found elevated levels of chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury in pet toys.
3 Tips to Avoid Toxins in Your Dog’s Toys
With so many potentially dangerous chemicals found in dog toys and no regulations in place to keep these chemicals out of your dog’s toys, how can you make sure your dog’s toys are not toxic?
The process will require research on your part, but there are many great companies manufacturing safe, fun toys for your dog. Here are three ways to find those manufacturers and avoid toxins in your dog’s toys.
1. Read a Toy’s Packaging and Label Carefully
While manufacturers may not always disclose if there are chemicals in their dog toys, many manufacturers will proudly display when there are no harmful chemicals.
Common symbols and labels to look for are BPA-free, phthalate-free, and latex-free. Food-grade plastic is another great label to look for, as that indicates there are no chemicals that could be harmful if consumed.
If there are no markings on the packaging, another good test is the “smell” test. As mentioned earlier, phthalates have a distinctive smell. If you pick up a dog toy and it has a chemical smell, it’s best to choose a different toy.
2. Search for the Product in the Healthy Stuff Database
Healthy Stuff Lab, created by The Ecology Center, researches everyday products to test for toxic chemicals. They have a database full of brand-name pet products that have been tested with actual test results for you to browse.
You can also browse a list of recalled pet products on the FDA’s website. While it’s unlikely these products would still be hanging on a store shelf, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. Buy from Transparent, Quality Companies
The best thing you can do is research the manufacturer before you buy a product. Many will list their product information and manufacturing standards online. You can get a good sense of how trustworthy and transparent a company is by browsing its website.
Look for dog toys manufactured in the United States, as they are a safer option than imported toys. Toys made in China, for example, have a higher rate of toxins and lead found in their toys.
If you can’t find any information on the manufacturer, reach out to their customer service department. Many companies will be happy to share information on their products with you; some may even share testing results conducted internally on their products.
If you contact a company and they have nothing to share with you or don’t respond, it’s a good idea to choose a different product.
Non-Toxic, Safe Toys Your Dog Will Love
At Project Hive, we proudly display that our products are BPA-free, recyclable, and manufactured in the United States.
Our dog toys are non-toxic, BPA-free, with no added latex, phthalates, or other toxic chemicals, so you can feel confident in your dog’s health and safety. Plus, every purchase helps to save the bees by planting wildflowers.
We believe that dog toys should be good for you, good for your dog, and good for the planet. Shop our selection of safe, non-toxic dog toys today.